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Big Surprise — Rich Guys Say Rich People Are All-Around Better Than Poor People!

A friend, Kather­ine Shec­o­ra, post­ed a link to an arti­cle on Dave Ramsay’s site about 20 Things the Rich Do Every Day along with her own excel­lent com­men­tary. I start­ed to com­ment on her post, but my remarks got so long that Face­book wouldn’t let me post the com­ment. Then I was going to write my own Face­book post, but as I was doing it, I real­ize that it has been far too long since I post­ed any­thing to my own blog, and this would real­ly be bet­ter here any­way.

Let me just say right up front that I’ve nev­er liked Dave Ram­say. I think he’s a self-right­eous ass­hat. I know that lots of peo­ple swear by him, but I think his meth­ods are too sim­plis­tic and dis­miss many of the bar­ri­ers to suc­cess that peo­ple who are tru­ly poor or in abu­sive sit­u­a­tions have to deal with, not to men­tion those with chron­ic ill­ness­es and oth­er issues.

So — on with these sup­posed habits of the rich. I have some ques­tions regard­ing Ramsay’s claims. Where did he get these fig­ures? What sort of method­ol­o­gy was used? How many peo­ple were sur­veyed, by whom, and what are the cre­den­tials of the peo­ple doing the study? What is con­sid­ered “wealthy” and “poor” for the pur­pos­es of this study? Where is this study pub­lished? Is it peer-reviewed?

Ah — Ram­say got his infor­ma­tion from anoth­er “guru” mak­ing a liv­ing sell­ing advice on how to get rich, Tom Cor­ley. I didn’t find wher­ev­er it is that Cor­ley makes all the claims that Ram­say cites, but I found SOME of them, thanks to some­one else’s blog post. It’s pos­si­ble that the rest of the claims are in Corley’s book, and I’m cer­tain­ly not about to buy it to find out. Cor­ley talks about “sta­tis­ti­cal data” and says, ” I spent five years study­ing the dai­ly habits of over 200 wealthy peo­ple and over 100 poor peo­ple. I tracked over 200 activ­i­ties that sep­a­rate the wealthy from the poor.” The study sup­pos­ed­ly result­ed in his book, Rich Habits — The Dai­ly Suc­cess Habits of Wealthy Indi­vid­u­als.

So no, there’s no peer-reviewed data here. And he isn’t a sci­en­tist of any sort, nor does he have any train­ing in doing soci­o­log­i­cal research. He’s a CPA. He doesn’t give any infor­ma­tion that I could find on his method­ol­o­gy or def­i­n­i­tions. Very slop­py. There were a total of approx­i­mate­ly 300 peo­ple involved in the study, but it doesn’t say that they were all involved for five years — just that he was doing his “research” (I use that term loose­ly) for five years.

So, let’s get on with these habits that sup­pos­ed­ly set the rich apart from the poor!

  1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calo­ries per day. 97% of poor peo­ple eat more than 300 junk food calo­ries per day. 23% of wealthy gam­ble. 52% of poor peo­ple gam­ble.”
    How is “junk food” defined here? Con­ve­nience foods? Fast food? Any­thing oth­er than the sort of organ­ic, gluten-free, free range, non-GMO stuff you have to go to Whole Foods or Trad­er Joe’s to buy for mucho dinero, then have the knowl­edge, resources, and time to pre­pare? (That’s assum­ing you can GET to Whole Foods or Trad­er Joe’s, since they aren’t in poor neigh­bor­hoods.) If you haven’t already done so, please go read Lin­da Tirado’s won­der­ful arti­cle, This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Deci­sions Make Per­fect Sense. And let’s be hon­est here — by “gam­bling” we’re talk­ing “buy­ing lot­tery tick­ets” right? The only peo­ple I know who buy those reg­u­lar­ly are at least mid­dle class, but I don’t go around ask­ing peo­ple about their gam­bling habits, to be hon­est. The one per­son I know who had an online gam­bling addic­tion would have been upper mid­dle class. Poor peo­ple don’t usu­al­ly have com­put­ers and inter­net access, and there aren’t that many legal ways to gam­ble in most of the coun­try.
  2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accom­plish­ing some sin­gle goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.”
    What con­sti­tutes a “sin­gle goal” here? Sur­vival, as Kather­ine point­ed out? Get­ting your kids raised safe­ly? How about keep­ing a roof over your head, or keep­ing your job so you can do that? I guess the only things that count as “goals” by these guys’ stan­dards are things like “make part­ner with­in X years” or “buy a vaca­tion home”?
  3. 76% of wealthy exer­cise aer­o­bi­cal­ly four days a week. 23% of poor do this.”
    The tru­ly “wealthy” don’t have to work, so of course they have time to do aer­o­bic exer­cise four times a week! They can afford per­son­al train­ers, too, not to men­tion gym mem­ber­ships. Far more of the “poor” have phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing jobs, have to spend extra time get­ting to and from work because they don’t own their own vehi­cles, work more than one job, can’t afford ANY extra child­care in order to spend time at a gym IF they could afford a gym mem­ber­ship, and cer­tain­ly can’t afford per­son­al train­ers!
  4. 63% of wealthy lis­ten to audio books dur­ing com­mute to work vs. 5% of poor peo­ple.”
    Audi­ble is great! But how many of the poor can afford audio­books? Bor­row them from the library, you say. Well, more and more library branch­es are being closed every­where — it isn’t as if libraries were the high­est pri­or­i­ty in most coun­ty bud­gets in the first place. Branch­es in poor areas are often closed first. Even when they aren’t closed out­right, their acqui­si­tion bud­gets are sliced to rib­bons. But let’s say our poor peo­ple are able to get access to a library that has audio­books avail­able. Okay, SOME of them have smart­phones on which they could lis­ten to audio­books, if the books are the right kind — I don’t know about your library, but mine has a lot more of the old­er books on CD than Over­drive audio­books that you can down­load to a smart­phone. If you don’t have your own car, you can’t lis­ten to those so eas­i­ly. If you don’t have your own com­put­er and tech­ni­cal know-how, you can’t rip them for lis­ten­ing on your phone (of course, doing that is of ques­tion­able legal­i­ty any­way). That’s assum­ing you have a smart­phone or oth­er mobile device on which you can lis­ten dur­ing a com­mute. Some peo­ple don’t have them, par­tic­u­lar­ly poor peo­ple.
  5. 81% of wealthy main­tain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.”
    I call bull­shit on this one. Seri­ous­ly? I’m just not believ­ing it. To-do lists, gro­cery lists, chore lists, you name it — I know plen­ty of peo­ple who cer­tain­ly aren’t WEALTHY who make lists ALL the time. Does it only count if they’re on dead trees or some­thing?
  6. 63% of wealthy par­ents make their chil­dren read two or more non-fic­tion books a month vs. 3% of poor.”
    See above regard­ing libraries. Also — HA! I want to see proof that these rich kids actu­al­ly READ two non-fic­tion books a month. Is this stuff actu­al­ly required by their pri­vate schools? I am a BIG fan of read­ing, and the encour­ag­ing there­of, but I don’t think any­body can effec­tive­ly “make” kids read any­thing and have it do any good.
  7. 70% of wealthy par­ents make their chil­dren vol­un­teer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.”
    I’m call­ing bull­shit again. Was there any proof of this sup­posed vol­un­teer work? Was it time spent at church, or some sort of actu­al ser­vice to the com­mu­ni­ty? I can tell you how I was spend­ing my hours as a child/teen — being forced to go to church every time the doors opened. Tak­ing care of sib­lings. House­work. Going to my own jobs (mul­ti­ple). How many of the rich kids have to work, or take care of younger sib­lings, or clean house?
  8. 80% of wealthy make Hap­py Birth­day calls vs. 11% of poor.”
    Birth­day calls, real­ly? Did they count oth­er forms of con­tact, or only phone calls — are those some­how mag­i­cal? Did any­body con­sid­er that some of the poor DON’T HAVE PHONES??? Or that they might need to use asyn­chro­nous com­mu­ni­ca­tion due to the dif­fi­cul­ty of mak­ing con­tact due to their work sched­ules?
  9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.”
    How can the wealthy write down their goals, mul­ti­ple, when item two says that 80% of them are work­ing towards a SINGLE goal? Does writ­ing a goal down invoke some kind of mag­ic?
  10. 88% of wealthy read 30 min­utes or more each day for edu­ca­tion or career rea­sons vs. 2% of poor.”
    It’s a lot eas­i­er to find time to read if you have leisure time in which to do it, and access to relevant/interesting read­ing mate­r­i­al! So we have the library/money issue again, in addi­tion to the time issue. How many of those “wealthy” peo­ple are just spend­ing time online, any­way — are they actu­al­ly read­ing in a direct­ed man­ner, or just surf­ing, like most peo­ple do? (Most of the poor don’t HAVE inter­net access.)
  11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.”
    This is one of the things that make me say “HA!” I just don’t believe it was a ques­tion on a sur­vey. The wealth­i­est peo­ple I’ve known were VERY out­spo­ken! The poor­est were far more afraid to speak up! I think this item is sup­posed to imply that poor peo­ple are poor because they don’t know when to shut up, or when it’s appro­pri­ate to be out­spo­ken, or how to use tact.
  12. 79% of wealthy net­work five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.”
    Again, the wealthy have far more time to devote to such things than the poor do — and they are gen­er­al­ly in pro­fes­sions that ben­e­fit far more from doing so. If you’re doing menial work, net­work­ing doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. You don’t improve your work at the fast food joint by net­work­ing with oth­er burg­er flip­pers or cashiers.
  13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.”
    I bet they spend every bit as much or more screen time, though. The poor are just less like­ly to have com­put­ers and inter­net access.
  14. 6% of wealthy watch real­i­ty TV vs. 78% of poor.”
    The wealthy have access to a greater vari­ety of enter­tain­ment, so they aren’t stuck with the crap that’s broad­cast. What per­cent­age of what’s on broad­cast tele­vi­sion any more IS real­i­ty TV, any­way? The few times that I’m exposed to it, it all seems like real­i­ty shows. How much time are the wealthy spend­ing using smart­phones, tablets, com­put­ers, and oth­er devices? How much time do they spend watch­ing oth­er things on tele­vi­sion?
  15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.”
    How many jobs are the poor work­ing? How many hours of sleep are they actu­al­ly get­ting? Again, I refer to Lin­da Tirado’s arti­cle, in which she said, “Rest is a lux­u­ry for the rich.”
  16. 74% of wealthy teach good dai­ly suc­cess habits to their chil­dren vs. 1% of poor.”
    What kind of “good dai­ly suc­cess habits” are we talk­ing about here? How to make it to payday/the end of the month when there isn’t enough to eat? How to fix all the things that don’t work in the crap­py place you can afford to live in, because the land­lord sure as hell won’t do it? How to reduce your chances of being a vic­tim of crime in the shit­ty neigh­bor­hood you have to live in? How to read tran­sit maps and fig­ure out how to get to school/work/the store/the clin­ic? How to take care of fam­i­ly mem­bers rang­ing in age from infan­cy to old age? How to do the bud­get dance to try to keep all the util­i­ties turned on?
  17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ty luck vs. 4% of poor.”
    That isn’t even a sen­tence. I don’t know what they’re try­ing to say. They think their good habits cre­at­ed their opportunities/“luck” ? I think that in most cas­es, they inher­it­ed cap­i­tal, or at least got a sol­id start and good edu­ca­tion, that gave them those oppor­tu­ni­ties and “luck.” Yes, good habits can help — but nobody does it alone.
  18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits cre­ate detri­men­tal luck vs. 9% of poor.”
    See above.
  19. 86% of wealthy believe in life­long edu­ca­tion­al self-improve­ment vs. 5% of poor.”
    How many of the poor had a decent edu­ca­tion to start with? How many of them were giv­en any rea­son to think that edu­ca­tion had ANY val­ue? How many of them have had any real oppor­tu­ni­ty to get a good edu­ca­tion? How many edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties are avail­able to the poor? They cer­tain­ly have far less time than the wealthy do to spend in self-improve­ment, and a hell of a lot less mon­ey to spend on it.
  20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.”
    I won­der how many of those poor are tru­ly lit­er­ate? I won­der what we would see if we com­pared the schools in which they were edu­cat­ed to the schools in which the wealthy were edu­cat­ed? I know, per­son­al­ly, that you CAN get a decent edu­ca­tion in a shit­ty school — but you have to work at it hard­er, and you need SOME sort of sup­port, some­where. You also need some kind of encour­age­ment to devel­op a love of read­ing. You need access to read­ing mate­r­i­al at some point. You do real­ize, don’t you, that some schools don’t have libraries — things that many peo­ple take for grant­ed in their schools? (I attend­ed one of them.) How are the kids in those schools sup­posed to devel­op a love of read­ing with NOTHING TO READ? I’m also won­der­ing how many of these peo­ple report that they “love to read” but haven’t actu­al­ly picked up a book for leisure read­ing in years, or couldn’t dis­cuss a book to save their lives (I find that’s often the case with peo­ple who claim that they “love to read”).

Over­all, NO. Just no. The entire thing reeks of self-right­eous bull­shit, and a poor­ly-designed set of ques­tions that doesn’t prove any­thing oth­er than that the per­son who came up with this stuff doesn’t under­stand a bloody thing about sci­ence or sta­tis­tics. But it cer­tain­ly gives the peo­ple who want to do so lots of excus­es to sprain a mus­cle while pat­ting them­selves on the back.

2 comments to Big Surprise — Rich Guys Say Rich People Are All-Around Better Than Poor People!

  • Accord­ing to this post any­one who is an out­sider is, by default, not to be tak­en seri­ous­ly. Ein­stein was a patent clerk who did physics part-time (and changed the world of sci­ence and physics), Adam Smith had a PhD in Phi­los­o­phy (and changed the world of Eco­nom­ics), Jesus was a car­pen­ter (and changed the world by cre­at­ing a new reli­gion). Thank God for out­siders. My views on the cause of pover­ty, as an out­sider, are rat­tling the lim­it­ing beliefs of indi­vid­u­als and blog­gers such as your­self.

  • Cyn

    You suf­fer from a lack of edu­ca­tion, Mr. Cor­ley. Ein­stein had a degree in physics and math­e­mat­ics. He took a job as a patent clerk in 1902 after spend­ing two years search­ing for a teach­ing post in his field after grad­u­at­ing from the Zurich Poly­tech­nic. He con­tin­ued to seek such a post, and in fact found one in 1908.

    Adam Smith was a social philoso­pher, just as John Stu­art Mill and Karl Marx were. The social sci­ences weren’t as nar­row­ly divid­ed in their times as they are now.

    Yeshua was a rebel exe­cut­ed for trea­son by the Romans. He cre­at­ed noth­ing. We have noth­ing he wrote, and noth­ing writ­ten by any­one who knew him. Saul of Tar­sus, more than any­one else, found­ed a new reli­gion based on tales of his fol­low­ers.

    Your views are sim­ply show­ing your big­otry and total lack of under­stand­ing of sta­tis­tics, soci­ol­o­gy, and many oth­er dis­ci­plines. Do you under­stand that cor­re­la­tion is not cau­sa­tion?

    I do hope that you’ve seen this arti­cle, which is much bet­ter than mine:
    http://benirwin.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/20-things-the-poor-do-every-day/

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